Tristwood - Dystopia Et Disturbia

In celebration of their 20 years of existence, Austria’s blackened industrial death metal group Tristwood have decided to re-release their third album that was locked in the digital vaults way back in 2010. “Dystopia et Disturbia” is probably their crowning achievement that really put them on the map with its unique sound, even though their latest album from 2020 pushed some boundaries further. Now this old gem of an album is finally available for CD junkies (like myself) with a few extra bonuses to boot. For those who know of Tristwood’s work, compared to their latest album “Blackcrowned Majesty,” “Dystopia” sounds a little more polished and more straightforward in the industrial death metal realm with black metal influences. “Blackcrowned…” was rawer, darker, and more nightmarish as the band delved into ambiance, which is usually a make or break for some listeners. Here, Tristwood deliver a more accessible album that still features a lot of the elements that made “Blackcrowned…” such a success, but it is understandable why fans might gravitate towards this release versus the newer one.

Production value is different for sure, making a cleaner sound for the industrial beats and rhythms which shoot right out the gate with the title track. The atmosphere is much more melodeath electronic in the vein of Dark Tranquility or even The Project Hate and the chugging riffs are constantly supported by the synth. Vocally, the band layers a lot more between the bellows and shrieks, but overall with the drums and the sheer pace of the music everything just sounds more ferocious. Cleaner, but more ferocious. The garage demo sound is pretty much gone and some fans might miss the rawness compared to other albums, but the big step up in production where one can enjoy everything really works in Tristwood’s favor here. A lot of the other tracks don’t really feature as much on the ‘dancy’ beats as the opening one, opting for more of a straightforward ‘just annihilate your ears’ kind of blackened death metal though with the drum fury the industrial elements seem to seep right through it, much like a group such as Zyklon B or even Thorns might go. ‘Volcanus’ demonstrates this well. There are some electronic warbles here and there, but the unique thing about this track aside from its just crushing pace is the vocal approach. Going for that mechanical kind of alien sound that a group like Kovenant or Dimmu Borgir might, this adds new levels of industrial elements that weren’t really present on other Tristwood albums. This is very sparing but enhances the overall experience and takes the track up to being more than just another furious death metal piece. Then there are tracks like ‘Irreversible’ that just open infectiously with that eastern sounding riff before exploding into an electronic laden death metal piece. This is probably the highlight of the album for its unique sound. The drums aren’t quite the industrial standout here but the pummeling riffs and aggressive vocals really slay, and of course it sounds like TPH (The Project Hate) so how much better could it get?

As the album progresses fans will notice a bit of a drop in the electronic elements. Tracks like ‘Terra Incognita’ and ‘Chamaelicon Bizarre’ are pretty much almost pure death metal tracks without too much of the sound that has made Tristwood stand out over the years. But, the crushing fury of it all takes things to a whole new level. Trading atmosphere for ferocity it sounds like we’re listening more to Behemoth during “Demigod” era and it floors. No doubt anyone who thinks that Tristwood can’t start up a pit during a show with a track like this will prove them wrong for sure. A little bit of the rawness comes back too with it so those looking more for that suffocating atmosphere on “Blackcrowned…” will find these tracks very enjoyable. Of course, the electronic elements are not quite done yet fully on the album. ‘The New Acid Bath’ serves as a very strong instrumental with a nice balance of beats and more of a groovy mid pace that serves as a great almost-closer for the album. The tracks ‘Jythand’ and ‘Apocalipsis’ are both bonuses with different sounds. ‘Jythand’ is raw, fast, and almost more black metal than anything else with a very demo sounding take on the vocals but a great kick to the ears, despite being very short. ‘Apocalipsis’ is a remix that takes very simple, but infectious beats and drapes them over the faster, more furious blackened death metal elements, which definitely sounds like the Tristwood listeners have come to know and love. The only downside to it is the beats start out loud and then get buried during the heavier sections and then are unearthed again which makes it sound less balanced overall compared to the rest of the album which is balanced. Even so, the very sci fi vibe does wonders for the group and serves a strong closer for the album.

For those who are lucky enough to get the CD version of “Dystopia Et Disturbia” there are 17 tracks worth of demos from the very early years. Now granted they will be a raw, furious mess (much how ‘Jythand’ sounded) so do not expect a polished collection of wonders that sound like the title track. However, it is a great listen to compare to show how Tristwood sounded during their early years of conception compared to now. For those who like the rawer, less polished and mechanical side of industrial death metal, then these tracks will probably be the highlight of the album (and possibly a sole reason to get it). But for those who really dig an industrial death metal sound that isn’t quite predictable (say- open with industrial beat, throw in some furious guitar, have a synth interlude, add back in furious guitar, and then close on dancy outro) then the main album tracks will be really appreciated by new fans. It is a great recommendation to start with ‘Dystopia’ compared to other Tristwood albums simply because it is very accessible and a little more straightforward, even just for production values. “Blackcrowned” might be a little too raw for most ears, but if fans did not get into that one, then this should serve them will. “Dystopia et Disturbia” is a very solid industrial death metal effort that shows it has only gotten better with age.

4 / 5 STARS

1. Dystopia Et Disturbia
2. Volcanus
3. Irreversible (Monument IIV)
4. Terra Incognia
5. Chamaelicon Bizarre
6. The Black Room
7. The New Acid Bath
8. Jythhand (2004)
9. Apocalipsis (2011 Remix)

Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Jul 12, 2021
Next review: Devolution - Consumer

Share this: